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Changes to the Court’s jurisdiction in 2019–20

The Court’s jurisdiction during the year was enlarged or otherwise affected by a number of statutes including the following:

  • Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018
  • Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017
  • Export Control Act 2020
  • Industrial Chemicals Act 2019
  • Insurance Contracts Act 1984
  • Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Act 2019
  • National Sports Tribunal Act 2019
  • Student Identifiers Act 2014
  • Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 1999
  • Timor Sea Maritime Boundaries Treaty Consequential Amendments Act 2019.

Amendments to the Federal Court of Australia Act

There were no amendments made to the Federal Court of Australia Act during the reporting year.

Fee regulation

The operation of the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012 remained unchanged in the reporting year.

The fee for filing applications under s 539 of the Fair Work Act 2009 in certain circumstances is fixed at the same rate as prescribed under subsection 395(2) of the Fair Work Act 2009. That fee is adjusted on 1 July of each year for changes in the consumer price index by regulation 3.07 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009.

Federal Court Rules

The judges are responsible for making the Rules of Court under the Federal Court Act. The Rules provide the procedural framework within which matters are commenced and conducted in the Court. The Rules of Court are made as Commonwealth Statutory Legislative Instruments.

The Rules are kept under review. New and amending rules are made to ensure that the Court’s procedures are responsive to the needs of modern litigation. A review of the Rules is often undertaken as a consequence of changes to the Court’s practice and procedure described elsewhere in this report. Proposed amendments are discussed with the Law Council of Australia and other relevant organisations, as considered appropriate.

There were no amendments made to the Federal Court Rules 2011 during the reporting year.

Other rules

In some specialised areas of the Federal Court’s jurisdiction, the judges have made rules that govern relevant proceedings in the Court; however, in each of those areas, the Federal Court Rules continue to apply where they are relevant and not inconsistent with the specialised rules.

The Federal Court (Corporations) Rules 2000 govern proceedings in the Federal Court under the Corporations Act 2001 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001, as well as proceedings under the Cross-Border Insolvency Act 2008 which involve a corporate debtor. There were no changes to the Federal Court (Corporations) Rules 2000 in the reporting year.

The Federal Court (Bankruptcy) Rules 2016 govern proceedings in the Federal Court under the Bankruptcy Act 1966, as well as proceedings under the Cross-Border Insolvency Act 2008 involving a debtor who is an individual. There were no changes to the Federal Court (Bankruptcy) Rules 2016 in the reporting year.

The Federal Court (Criminal Proceedings) Rules 2016 govern all criminal proceedings in the Federal Court, including summary criminal proceedings, indictable primary proceedings and criminal appeal proceedings. There were no changes to the Federal Court (Criminal Proceedings) Rules 2016 in the reporting year.

The Admiralty Rules 1988 govern proceedings in the Federal Court under the Admiralty Act 1988. There were no changes to the Admiralty Rules 1988 in the reporting year.

Approved forms

Approved forms are available on the Court’s website. Any document that is filed in a proceeding in the Court must be in accordance with any approved form. The Chief Justice may approve a form for the purposes of the Federal Court Rules 2011, the Federal Court (Bankruptcy) Rules 2016 and the Federal Court (Criminal Proceedings) Rules 2016.

No new forms were approved by the Chief Justice for the purposes of the Federal Court Rules 2011, the Federal Court (Criminal Proceedings) Rules 2016 or the Federal Court (Bankruptcy) Rules 2016 during the reporting year.

Practice notes

Practice notes are used to provide information to parties and their lawyers involved in proceedings in the Court on particular aspects of the Court’s practice and procedure.

Practice notes supplement the procedures set out in the Rules of Court and are issued by the Chief Justice upon the advice of the judges of the Court and the Court’s inherent power to control its own processes. All practice notes are available on the Court’s website.

The Court is moving away from process driven litigation that can be overly costly and slow and can limit access to the legal system. The Court is encouraging parties to consider the use of the Concise Statement Method where the key issues and facts at the heart of the dispute, and the primary legal grounds and relief sought, are required to be plainly and clearly identified at an early stage, so that the docket judge can make tailored case management orders that deal with the real issues in dispute in a reasonable, proportionate and cost effect way: Australian Securities and Investments Commission v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited [2019] FCA 1284 (Allsop CJ).

Following the success of the Concise Statement Method in the Commercial and Corporations NPA, where it was first introduced, in 2019–20 the Court expanded the adoption of the Concise Statement Method into other NPAs of the Court, by revising the following practice notes:

  • Central Practice Note: National Court Framework and Case Management (CPN-1) issued 25 October 2016
  • Administrative and Constitutional Law and Human Rights National Practice Note (ACLHR-1) issued 25 October 2016
  • Admiralty and Maritime Practice Note (A&M-1) issued 25 October 2016
  • Employment and Industrial Relations Practice Note (E&IR-1) issued 25 October 2016, and
  • Intellectual Property Practice Note (IP-1) issued 25 October 2016.

The Court also issued a new Defamation Practice Note (DEF-1) and revised the following practice notes in 2019–20:

  • Class Actions General Practice Note (GPN-CA) issued 20 December 2019
  • Cross-Border Insolvency Practice Note: Cooperation with Foreign Courts or Foreign Representatives (GPN-XBDR) issued 31 January 2020
  • Taxation Practice Note (TAX-1) issued 25 October 2016, and
  • Lists of Authorities and Citations Practice Note (GPN-AUTH) issued 25 October 2016.

Guides

The Federal Court also issues national guides. These guides cover a variety of subject areas, such as appeals, migration, human rights and insolvency matters. Other guides cover a range of practical and procedural matters, such as communicating with chambers and registry staff, clarifying the role and duties of expert witnesses, and providing guidance on the preparation of costs summaries and bills of costs.

In its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Court developed a series of guides to support the practices developed for online hearings and the use of Microsoft Teams, including a National Practitioners and Litigants Guide intended to provide guidance for the legal profession and litigants-in-person appearing in online hearings. That guide provided information on how to join an online hearing, the expectations of the Court, the participants and members of the public, and sample orders to facilitate an online hearing.

All guides are available on the Court’s website.